King’s Lynn’s Palm Paper is steamed up with the Grid

Sir Henry Bellingham (MP) visits Palm Paper in King's Lynn.FLtoR Stephan Gruber. Henry Bellingham. David Proctor. Derek Harman. ANL-160306-132144009
Sir Henry Bellingham (MP) visits Palm Paper in King's Lynn.FLtoR Stephan Gruber. Henry Bellingham. David Proctor. Derek Harman. ANL-160306-132144009

Palm Paper has told North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham that it has suffered a rebuff in its attempts to provide the National Grid with green energy.

The German-owned paper mill at Saddlebow is considering building a combined heat and energy plant to supply all its own needs.

But part of the plan was for the plant, which utilises steam and would have an 80m high chimney, to feed into the National Grid when the mill was in shut-down.

Stephan Gruber, managing director production at Palm Paper in Lynn, said the National Grid had said it was at maximum capacity.

Mr Gruber said: “We are more than happy to help out in any way and we have been told the Grid needs as much power as it can be given but we may have to forego the opportunity.”

Sir Henry, who visited the Saddlebow site on Friday, said he would speak to the National Grid on the issue.

Sir Henry said he had come to the plant to hear about latest developments at the plant. A total of 164 people work for Palm Paper at the plant and another 15 have recently began work there for Palm Recycling, after the business was moved from Cheshire. Eight of these new staff have been recruited locally, said Mr Gruber.

The mill produces 30 per cent of the newsprint used in this country, that is 400,000 tonnes a year or 1,100 tonnes a day.

Mr Gruber said it had seven apprentices at Saddlebow at present and that recently one local engineer had been given a masters degree in papermaking from the University of Munich.

That commitment to growing local ‘talent’ was applauded by Sir Henry, who said: “This is a phenomenal investment in King’s Lynn. One of the biggest, if not the biggest inward investments into East Anglia ever. Getting on for half a billion euros investment.

“I think that Lynn was waiting to try and find its way forward and we were developing a world-class engineering cluster in Lynn with some very interesting new IT businesses but what we needed were some really significant inward investment to complement that and in the case of Palm Paper it was beyond our wildest dreams that Palm Paper decided to come here and it is a huge endorsement in Lynn.

“Although there are not vast numbers of people working here, the impact on the supply chain and the impact also in terms that all the jobs here are high skilled and in fact what it does is reinforce is that the skills base in this town is incredibly important.

“What me must have in Lynn is that we have got a very attractive part of the countryside for businesses to do business but what we do need is more home-grown skills.”

Sir Henry is campaigning for the UK to leave the EU. He said: “I think the good question to ask is not so much around trade but around inward investment now would companies like Palm and Masterfoods would foreign companies that have invested in Norfolk and other parts of the UK, Would they continue producing here if we weren’t members of the EU and I think that is a good question to ask.

“I don’t see why they shouldn’t, but I think there will be a period of adjustment where those companies will want to see what sort of trading relationship, business relationship if we did come out.

“I have always been a good European but I have always taken the view that the EU which is supposed to be a trading relationship but has gone much to far to being a political union, and that doesn’t register in Britain very well.”